Quick Trip to Georgia

We’re back in Georgia for a couple of days. Our oldest daughter invited us to join them to see Cirque de Soleil. We’ll be back in a couple of weeks. Between now and them I have two tournaments, one in North Carolina the other in Maryland.

Once we get back to Georgia I am looking forward to shooting in Madison, Georgia. Then it’s onto Decatur, Alabama for the USA Outdoor National Championship. So, with all the competitive events in the near future I’ve not skipped on practice.

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We have a field here that is devoted to storing trailers, tractors, and archery. That’s were I practiced this morning. I was shooting with a Mathews Apex 7 and pins rather than my Elite with a scope. The Elite is being re-strung in Elizabeth City, NC. I’ll have it back on Tuesday.

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I’d mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve not shot using pins in over a year. It feels a little weird aiming with pins. Nearly all my shots landed in the yellow and I almost opened up the center.

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Pins and no magnification certainly make seeing the X more of a challenge. Shooting out over 35 yards takes a slightly different “feel”. The effort is magnified since the Mathews bow feels very different from the Elite. But, I think the variance in the bows could be good practice.

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Desperate to Shoot

My Elite 35 is in the shop. The string needs to be replaced. 60X is one of my sponsors I use their strings. Because I have red bicycle handle bar tape on the grip of my bow, this time I requested a red and black string from 60X. It should look cool.

The shop where the sting is being replaced is moving. PGF Archery, owned by Bumper Williams has operated out of a shed on his property in Winfall, NC. Bumper has expanded his business and is relocating to a storefront in Elizabeth City, NC.

In fact, the property he’s rented for his expansion was the former location of the Cutting Edge Archery store. The Cutting Edge closed this week and PGF Archery is moving to that location.   In the meantime, my Elite is in transit with the rest of the goods from Bumpers shed.

Without the Elite I still had two options to shoot: a $78.00 recurve and my old Mathews Apex 7.

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I gave the recurve a few hours of time. It is amazing; I did not lose a single arrow. I tried to get a feel for shooting tradition style and had some success out to about 20 yards. I shot around 60 arrows with the recurve and all hit the target. A few even landed in the center. Nevertheless, I admit I had no idea what I was doing.

My second option was the Apex 7. I’d sold the bow last year and ended up getting it back. Since last year I’ve not shot with pins. I didn’t want to do the work on the scope in order to set it for the Mathews bow so I connected my old pin sight. (I removed the scope and stabilizers from the Elite while it’s being restrung)

It took awhile to acclimate to the 65% let off, the spongy wall, and pins. Eventually, I was shooting pretty well out to 50 yards – the bottom pin. Out of curiosity, I decided to shoot twenty 3D targets with my old friend.

The Mathews Apex 7 was my first bow. I’d bought is two years and 10 months ago from Shore Sportsmen in Easton, MD. It was nice to get reacquainted with it.

Since I was using pins, a bit cold to pins, I didn’t shoot any target farther away than 40 yards. Not having a scope makes a real difference. Being unaccustomed with the bow also took a toll. I ended up 6 down after a twenty target session with the Apex 7.

On Tuesday of next week my Elite 35 will be ready for me to retrieve. Even though I shot pretty well with the Apex 7, I’ll go into the next volley of tournaments with the Elite.

But, I still got to shoot even if the score was a bit disappointing

Tapering

This weekend there’s a two-day field archery tournament and a triathlon. I’m entered in both events. It’s going to be a stretch making both of them, but it’s worth a try.

With the triathlon in mind, I’m tapering a bit. The race is an Xterra sprint. That means a short swim, only 800 yards. The swim is followed by a 14 mile off road (mountain bike) ride and finishes with a 5K-trail run.

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The swim is, well just that a short swim. The distance is par for a sprint triathlon. The mountain biking and trail running are different for me.

I’ve done both and did pretty good in mountain bike racing and was okay as a trail runner. But, I’ve never done an off road triathlon. I’m looking forward to it.

It is going to be tight. The archery tournament is a two-day event. The finish time for the tournament is approximately 2 PM on Saturday. The triathlon, 45 minutes away from the archery tournament, starts at 4:30 PM. However, check-in ends at 4:00 PM. It’s very cool to be doing a race starting in the afternoon. Most start around 7:00 am or earlier. I hope I can pull it off.

Tapering for the race means little for a sprint. I still swam today and ran. But, not as far as usual. Short for the swim means I only swam 800 yards. I’m not a fast swimmer and it took about 14 minutes to go the distance. I also ran slower than usual simply enjoying an easy pace.

Archery was also a little easier. Yesterday I shot for about 5 hours. Today, I practiced only two and a half.

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60 yards was far enough today

I practiced for a while shooting at paper out to 60 yards. I went out to 80 yesterday. In order to get an 80-yard shot I moved my targets, used a 100-foot tape measure and reeled out 80 yards – marking at 30 yards, then 60 yards and finally 80 yards.

I ended up two doors down on my road and practiced shooting from one of my neighbor’s front yards. I shot across his property, the house between us onto the target in my driveway. There’s only two families here full time, including us, so it wasn’t a problem to shoot across the middle lawn where there’s a currently vacant house.

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River waiting for a toss

Today, 60 yards was enough. Since I’ve changed arrows for the field tournament and the USA Outdoor Nationals I am having a bit of a problem getting a yardage tape that aligns with the calibration on my sight. The yardage marks are good out to 35 yards, but beyond that everything is off by 2 to 3 yards.

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It’s getting thick in these woods

It was also a day for 3D practice. The range has gotten very thick with foliage. It will need to be trimmed this week. Parts of it were too wet for running shoes, which I was wearing at the time. We’ve had a lot of rain here over the past few days. Tomorrow, it will be rubber boots in order to keep my feet dry.

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River inspecting a coyote

River was a big help throughout practice. She seems to have learned a new trick. What she does is goes swimming. She then leaves the water and stand near me as I prepare a shot. Once I’m at full draw she shakes the water from her coat. Neat trick.

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Struck this branch with an arrow on the way to a bear. Couldn’t believe I still hit the target.

 

 

 

A “Hot” Dog, Turkey, and a Fish Eating Snake

River and I got out a little later than usual to run. It was already hot. It felt good to me, less good to River. Because it was hot I directed the run toward an area where River could go swimming if she wanted. She wanted to swim.

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River cooling off

It was a good day for a brick (a brick is a back to back run / ride for those of you that aren’t triathletes) and that was on my schedule. Back home I changed over to cycling and headed away on a bike. This day I took a mountain bike.

There are paths that lead into swamps about five miles from my home. The swamp is where I wanted to ride.

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Shortly after I left the road and hit the trail I scared up a turkey. The hen had been hiding in some brush. Along with her were six babies. I took a couple of pictures then left them alone.

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In the swampy area I noticed an unusual track – that of a human.   What on earth anyone would be doing way back on this trail barefoot is beyond me.

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When I got home Brenda wanted to go out on the boat. She has two friends visiting. They’re all three Yoga girls. One of our daughters, Candace, has been a yoga instructor for years. Brenda and her friends are yoga instructors.

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Ok, she’s showing off a bit

I know a lot of people enjoy yoga. I understand it is good for you. Brenda even talked me into trying it – twice. It didn’t stick. Anyway, Brenda wanted to take her friends out for a ride in the boat.

I’d just finished about 3 hours of cardio – running and riding. She found me asleep on the floor in one of my sheds. I suppose I’ll need to find a better hideout. But, Brenda got me up and moving so we could get out on the boat.

As I was gathering what I needed to take on the boat Brenda found me and asked me to get my shotgun to shoot a snake. She said, “There’s a moccasin eating a fish on the steps leading into the water.”

Sure enough, there was a massive water moccasin slowly mouthing a fish into its gut. The snake never stood a chance.

After that excitement we did get on the water for an hour or so. We headed back sooner than expected because the ladies were getting hungry.

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The remainder of the afternoon was devoted to archery. It was nearly 90 degrees when I started shooting. After an hour and a half I took a break to write this post. Once this is done, I’ll be heading back out to shoot some more.

Bye-Bye Bonnie

at201602A few days ago Tropical Depression Bonnie nearly crossed our path here in New Hope (near Hertford), North Carolina. The weather maps showed that the outer boundary of the depression hovering over the Outer Banks and just above the Albemarle Sound.

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I was curious – how accurate are those images being posted online by Wunderground and the National Hurricane Center? So, I walked out to the end of my dock and took a look for myself.

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Admittedly the data online was very accurate. We were just outside of the really foul weather by a few miles. That meant I could still get in some archery practice.

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Bonnie hung out off the coast here for a day or so then gathered stream and headed east into the Atlantic. I won’t miss her. Living here in the coast of North Carolina we’re going to get more than our fair share of hurricanes. Only Louisiana, Florida, and Texas get more hurricanes than we do in North Carolina. Georgia, my home state is number six among the top ten states for attracting ocean originating cyclones.

Even though Bonnie skirted past us, she provided parts of the state with a bit more wind and rain than we received. I mentioned to a friend, when the storms come we’ll get the Winnebago and leave. He asked, “Where will you go?” My answer, “To where the hurricane isn’t going.”

(To my good friend in New Orleans – Terry we’re one up on you.)

Switzerland, that’s one of those Norwegian Countries

We were in Pittsburgh last weekend. Brenda and I drove to the Steel City, where our daughter lives with her family, for a birthday celebration. Actually, there were two celebrations for two granddaughters. The older of the two turned 5 and the youngest is now a one year old.

We didn’t stay with our daughter. Instead we stayed with friends that live in Murrysville. Brenda and I once lived in Murrysville. We made many lasting friends there, but the Western Pennsylvania cold finally drove us away.

I brought gear with me so I could play. There wouldn’t be a lot of free time, grandchildren eat up free time, but there would be time to run and shoot. We were too far away from The Archery’s Edge, where Jeff Falconer works so I found a range in Murrysville. It would have been nice to have seen Jeff, but that wasn’t going to work this trip.

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The back up range I found was located at The Ultimate Outdoors in Murrysville. It was smaller than Jeff’s indoor range. I was the only shooter on the range so it worked out fine. As I was leaving one of the people that works at the Ultimate Outdoors told me there was an outdoor range at Boyce Park. I decided to give that a try and headed to the park.

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Along the way to Boyce Park I stopped for gas and a Red Bull. The 8.4 oz. can of Red Bull was $2.49. This is expensive even for Red Bull. In NC I pay $2.09 a can at the local New Hope Community Store.

When I mentioned the higher price the clerk gave me a geography lesson. He explained that Red Bull comes from Switzerland. He checked the labeling on the can to verify his pronouncement. Then he added, “Yes, this comes from Switzerland, that’s one of those Norwegian countries.” I paid my $2.49 plus tax and left the geographically wise clerk beaming with shared knowledge and pride.

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It was nice to have been able to shoot, even if I didn’t make it to the Archer’s Edge. I learned some people think Switzerland is a Norwegian country.  We celebrated two birthdays. It was great to be back in Pittsburgh.  But, I never did find that archery range at Boyce Park.  Maybe next time.IMG_5054

 

Sufficiently Worn Out

Being physically worn out is a good feeling. Right now, I have that feeling. Today, there was a lot of moving around outside and that is how I earned being beat.

The weather, after several days of cold and rain, turned clear and warm. Not hot, warm, 81°F. It was a day to spend outside, so I did spent it outside.

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Well, this was a good start to a fun day

The morning began with a run. River, my lab and her friend, Coco, a lab that lives about a mile away, ran with me. After the run, I got in about 30 minutes of archery practice before moving onto the lawn.

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When I cut my grass I ride on a small John Deere tractor. It’s a lot easier than pushing a mower. When I cut the grass I also cut one or more of my neighbors lawns. Today, I cut only one of the neighbors’ lawns – the neighbor that allows me use of his acreage across our road (it’s a dirt/gravel path more than street, so I call it a road) for my 3D range.

Then, I tended to the 3D range. Weed whacking, trimming and blowing away debris and clumps of grass follows the mowing. The entire process takes about five and half hours.

There was plenty of daylight and great weather remaining. It was prefect for cycling. The morning run wasn’t hard and cycling was also at an easy pace. Cycling lasted a little more than an hour.

Finishing up the outside play was another two hours of archery practice. All of this was 3D focused. The 3D range, freshly manicured was irresistible.

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This day began at 5:30 am and the exercise part of it ended at 5:30 pm. It was a good day to be outside and I worn myself out taking advantage of it.

Swimming and 3D Practice

Swimming was my primary focus for today’s cardio training. Since it’s been raining non-stop swimming at the YMCA was perfect. Then, it was onto 3D or indoor archery depending on the weather.

I have a triathlon in a few weeks. My goal for this workout was time. I did a swim time trial for the distance I’ll be swimming in the June XTerra triathlon. The distance is not an issue. What I wanted to know is how slow (or fast) I might be over the 800 yards (sprint distance) for the triathlon. Whatever time I have the in pool it will be faster than open water. In open water it’s harder to keep a straight line. I tend to zigzag from buoy to buoy.

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Swimming in open water – I barely stay on a straight line

Heading back to my Ford F-150, after the swim, I was pleased to see it had stopped raining. Not really wanting to shoot indoors I knew I’d be on the 3D range soon. I’d recently gotten a new 3D target, a bobcat, and was eager to stick some arrows into the small cat.

Before I got to my new target I spent time shooting a bear, badger, coyote and turkey. Progressing through the range, I was anticipating the new animal. Shooting the same old targets day in and day out is fun, but a new target is exciting.

The bobcat is certainly a small target. Where it’s placed on the range the maximum distance it can be shot is 32 yards. That seemed like a good place to start. The rings on the bobcat are barely visible using binoculars from 32 yards. This wasn’t a freebee shot.

The cat sits so that it’s in a tunnel of foliage. From the stake, which is in the open, the shot enters a closed in path. This was done in an attempt to make the shot more difficult.

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Patch of blue sky through the leaves

I’ve seen bobcats similar to this one during tournaments. Each time the faux Lynx rufus was sitting straight down a lane less than 20 yards from the stake. Granted, it is a small target and during tournaments small targets are frequently arranged less than 20 yards from the stake. Small targets aren’t always so close. The last few javelinas I’ve had to shoot in tournaments were at 40 plus yards. I silently cursed before I took my shot.

My inaugural shots on the bobcat were a ten and an eight. The eight was the first attempt. I tried a few more times to hit the very small center ring from 32 yards – never got it and moved onto the next animal.IMG_5035

Where I wanted to spend some time was on this pig that is situated so that trees and angles make up the challenge. I have three stakes for this pig. There’s not much different where distance is concerned, two shots are at 37 yards and one is at 34 yards. The trick is to get the arrow between the trees and hit the pig on a slant for the longer shots. At 34 yards the shot is nearly straight on.

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You can tell the angle of aim on this pig from the arrow placement

What’s happened, as summer approaches (come on warm weather) is that the foliage in the woods has darkened everything. The black boar’s rings are impossible to see. Shoot it enough and maybe the rings can be committed to memory. If only all the pigs I see in tournament were at 37 to 34 yards and the size of this one.

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It’s almost like a rain forest in these woods

Back in the woods, out of the wind, I have a couple of targets where longer shots are possible. One is a Rinehart deer that, at the moment, has a 55 yards maximum range. There’s also a mountain lion, that if I wanted, I can shoot at from 100 yards or more. Note I wrote, “shoot at” from 100 yards not hit from 100 yards. I’ve never tested a shot over 85 yards. (I found that arrow cutting the grass last week)

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Practice kept me in the woods for around two and a half hours this afternoon. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. The lighting in the woods because of leaves gives this forest a very different appeal than the bare trees of winter. It sure beats sitting in an office.

Falling off the Training Wagon and Creating a Little Fun

Typically, I have training plan for the week. I know what targets I’m going to shoot, how I’ll practice, and how long I’ll spend doing each session – morning and afternoon. This week, well I got lazy. I didn’t build a plan.

My archery training plans like my triathlon plans are several weeks long. I use a thirteen-week cycle. Archery is harder to prepare because I don’t have the same degree of experience or expertise creating a plan as with triathlon. As such, I fell off the archery training plan wagon.

So, today shooting was ad lib. Maybe tomorrow will be ad lib as well since I still haven’t prepared a new archery-training plan for the next 13 weeks. I do have my triathlon plan completed through November. Nevertheless, I spent two hours shooting arrows today.

Without a plan archery was play. I tried things I’ve not yet done or done very little. I used the 3D range and shot really long shots – up to 65 yards. I’ve shot that far and further. Today however, I shot a lot of arrows at smallish 3D targets. The bulk of the shots were from 40 to 65 yards. Heck, I figured the center shot on a badger, turkey, or coyote is about the same the center X on a paper target at 50 meters. Seemed a bit like double dipping my practice.

Then, I noticed, while shooting a badger, I could shoot a turkey and coyote, albeit at a weird angle, without moving. So, I shot them without changing my position. It was fun, it was different.

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Hard to see but there is a turkey to the left, a coyote in the middle and a badger to the right

Shooting the same targets day in and day out, well it’s the same everyday. Finding different ways to shoot them, making up different “games”, and finding new ways to hit the targets, keeps practice fresh. Simply shooting three old targets from a new position was fresh and it was fun.

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Yep, that was a different perspective. (River is checking for snakes)

As I started backing away from my targets, forty yards, fifty yards, sixty yards, and finally sixty-five yards practice became more fun – certainly less structured. Shooting at a turkey for most of the shots was exciting. Not exciting like climbing a mountain or doing a long open water swim. Exciting in knowing that if I missed high I’d be hunting for an arrow.

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The turkey shot from 65 yards

Turkeys aren’t large targets. A bit too much on elevation at 65 yards means so long arrow. Shooting low isn’t as much of a problem; turkeys have a lot of foam below the center ring. Not so much foam up top aiming at the side of the bird.

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First two tries at 65 yards

I shot for a couple of hours this afternoon. It was a very informal practice. A break from rigid plans does help keep practice fresh.

I’ll worry about the plan tomorrow. (No arrows were lost during this day’s play.)

 

 

Shooting in the Rain

It’s been raining all day. Not a hard rain. The rain has been light. So, I practiced in the rain.

It wasn’t raining when I got out of bed at 5:00 AM. Typically, I like to sleep until 6:00 AM. Lately, I’ve been hitting the sack earlier and as a result I am waking up earlier. I’m trying to get into a routine of waking earlier. I have a number of races with start times, over the next few months, where a 5:00 AM wake-up call is mandatory. At the ASA in Augusta I had a shoot time set for 07:30 AM. So, I figured I’d better practice getting up a little earlier than usual.

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My running partners, River in the lead and Coco on her heels.

The day began with an early morning run. It wasn’t raining during the run, but looked like it might start at any moment. I started shooting a little later that usual because I had some yard work that had to be completed. Once all of that was done – it started raining.

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It was warm and we stopped so the girls could have a break.

There are times when I’ve shot in 3D tournaments and it rained. Not a light rain, as today’s is, but a hard core float the Ark type rain. Today it has been gentle and not nearly hard enough to run me inside.

There will be days, I am certain, where I’ll get caught shooting in the rain. In cycling and running, events don’t stop for rain. In archery, we compete rain or shine most of the time.

Last week a 3D tournament was canceled due to rain. It wasn’t raining when the event was called off. It had been storming and the range along with parking were both mud bogs. I went and checked it out. I don’t mind mud on my truck. I suppose other more sensitive souls may have objected to mud.

You know, when we play outside we’re sometimes going to get caught in the rain. Really as long as it’s not freezing cold it doesn’t bother me. I can take the rain or I can take the cold, but I can’t take the rain and the cold.

Today’s rainy practice was fun. I shot better than usual. I think there’s an element of playing in the rain I enjoy. The bonus is now that I’m all grown up; Mama doesn’t fuss at me for getting soaking wet.